www.arcteryx.com, one pound, six ounces
Arc‘Teryx and Gore just upped the ante with the new Caden Jacket, whichCaden incorporates new N80pX Gore-Tex Pro Shell, a more breathable version of their standard-setting benchmark fabric. The Caden’s articulated pattern mimics the posture of the ski and snowboard athlete, with a design that moves fluidly for big mountain skiing and riding. The new micro-seam technology increases breathability and reduces overall garment weight. A waterproof front zipper helps keep rain and snow at bay, plus it’s easy to use with gloved fingers. Our tester loved the hood that fits easily over standard ski and climbing helmets. The hood rotates with your head, with no blocking of peripheral vision or that suffocating feeling when its zipped up. The first-rate feature set is rounded out with zippered hand pockets, internal mesh pockets roomy enough for gloves or a waterbottle, and a discreet powder skirt that kept us dry in the deep.
Those few skiers and snowboarders who are still not wearing a helmet just ran out of another excuse. Available this August, Giro will introduce the Combyn, which they’re calling a “soft shell” helmet. It uses an impact-absorbing liner made with vinyl nitrate foam constructed into two distinct layers to handle both high- and low-energy impacts. Unlike most helmets on the market, this liner is compressible and flexible, and, when paired with a proprietary shell material similar to that found in hockey and football helmets, makes for a very comfortable, flexible fit without sacrificing any safety features. The helmet will have eight vents, a removable goggle holder, three fit kit sizes, and will be fully compliant with CE EC 1077 safety regulations.
Rossignol knows skiing, and it’that has never been so apparent as with their fall 2013 Line-up. The new Soul 7 reinforces Rossie’s reputation as master of the rocker ski. This medium-fat ski is a single-ski quiver—designed to float on powder, carve on groomers, and style you through choss and crust like an Olympic champ. The Soul 7 is designed for both lift-hounds and backcountry-cats—a hollowed out ABS resin tip helps to shave 20 percent off the ski weight (from last year’s S7) and lower swing weight. The lightweight ski has a solid wood core that helps with stability, plus the same smidgen of rocker on the tip and tail to make turning effortless while maintaining edge control.
The new ski measures 136/106/126, and comes in sizes 162, 174, 180, and 188. If you are in between sizes, we recommend sizing up slightly on rocker skis, as there’s less board-to-snow contact. Turn radius is 17 mm, which means the ski is nimble enough to handle the bumps. We’ll test the ski this spring and report back, but word is that its noticeably calm and stable at high speeds, and “super playful.”
There’s a lot of talk about timeless designs, but the Alpha Jacket blends state-of-the-art technology with a classic alpine ski profile. I’ve worn it for 25-plus days on Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor in weather down to -3 degrees and always felt like I was a warm island floating in the cold. The jacket packs a lot of warmth in a relatively light package. Nine circular down pouches in the back provide heat where you need it the most (on your shoulders and lower back) and eliminate the need for the excessive layers that not only restrict movement, but reduce overall insulative quality. Helly’s designers were inspired by backpacks that utilize mesh for venting—two long vertical hidden zippers from the shoulder blades to the hip let you vent on hot days—seal them off for ultimate warmth. There’s also mesh on the stretch cuff gaiters. Reinforced thumb holes are just right—big enough to slide you thumb in without restriction, but not so big that they bunch up when not engaged. Durable waterproof/breathable fabric has two-ways stretch with the feel and dynamic stretch of a soft shell coupled with the storm-thwarting weatherproofing that is Helly’s signature feature. This is a warm jacket—but the breathability, ergonomically-friendly design, and venting make it transcend super cold winter days to spring skiing. Primo features include discreet, dense foam patches on the shoulders for cushioning a pack, a tuck-away powder skirt, giant hand-warmer pockets with soft microfleece linings, and two inside zip chest pockets—one with a washable goggle cloth.
Partnering with Chris Davenport, one of the most accomplished big mountain athletes skiing today, Scarpa will release a line of ridiculously nice, new free-ride boots next season. The Freedom SL ($750) is the Cadillac of the line, weighing in at three pounds and 13 ounces, with an interchangeable metal sole system that’ll let you step into any kind of alpine or AT binding. The four-buckle boot will have a new shell mold and construction to reduce the overall volume, and a carbon-fiber core adds stiffness to this otherwise soft boot. The ski/walk mechanism (which hinges at the back of the boot) provides 27 degrees of movement, with seven degrees of resistance and 20 degrees of forward flex. That means you can hike uphill unfettered—you’ll even appreciate the flexibility when you’re hoofing it from your car to the ski lodge. The boot will also come with Scarpa’s heat-moldable Intuition liners, some of the lightest and most comfortable on the market. Oh, and the graphics for each boot are unique, which may appeal to some free-riders more than all the tech specs we love!